Adventures in Boating Washington Handbook
The Official Boating Handbook of the Washington State Parks - Web Version
Table of Contents
Filing a Float Plan
Before going out on a vessel, it is always a good idea to leave a float plan with a local marina, relative, or friend.
A float plan should:
- Describe the vessel, including its number, size, make, capacity, horsepower, and type of engine.
- State where you are going, the detailed route, your planned departure time, and your expected return time.
- Give the name, address, and telephone number of each person on board and an emergency contact.
- If possible, include a photograph of your vessel in your float plan.
A sample float plan is available online at www.boat-ed.com/washington/handbook/pdf/floatplan.pdf. Or use the free U.S. Coast Guard mobile app on your smartphone to file a float plan.
Be sure to let others know when you have returned safely.
You can ensure a good time while operating your vessel by performing this pre-departure check.
- Make sure your vessel is registered.
- Get your boater education card.
- Check the weather forecast for the area and time frame during which you will be boating.
- Make sure that the steering and throttle controls operate properly and all lights are working properly.
- Check for any fuel leaks from the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor.
- Check the engine compartment for oil leaks.
- Check hose connections for leaks or cracks, and make sure hose clamps are tight.
- Drain all water from the engine compartment, and be sure the bilge plug is replaced and secure.
- Check to be sure you have a fully charged engine battery and fire extinguishers.
- If so equipped, make sure the engine cut-off switch and wrist lanyard are in good order.
- Make sure you have the required number of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and check that they are in good condition.
- Leave a float plan with a reliable friend or relative.
- Make sure your marine sanitation device (MSD) overboard discharge valve is secured properly.
- Make sure you have a plan in case your vessel breaks down.
- Carry two forms of communication, such as a mobile phone and a Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio.